16 Sep 2011

September already 3


A sleepy farm awakes to morning mist.

Big, round bales awaiting collection. 

I was surprised how easy they were to roll about. (well you have to try, don't you? :)) The picture came out too dark because the sun was above the bales. I suppose I can claim it adds drama. Adding gamma and contrast to lighten it loses the pretty sky. It's amazing how neatly the straw is rolled to absolute perfection. You could put a precision straight edge across the ends of the bales!

After the harvest its the farmer's responsibility to make the roads as muddy as possible. With ploughing and seed drilling well under way they are certainly achieving their ambition. Isn't it odd how everything agricultural is mechanised except road cleaning? They can't even keep the road clear of gravel falling off their drives and yards. The mud carries quite stones onto the roads. The mud is broken down by rain and traffic leaving the stones behind.

September 16th 2011  44-58F, 7-14C, sunny, almost still. First cooler start to the day this year. The wind stayed quite light. The clamp on top of my my Zoom seat post came loose and I had to return home to re-tighten it with a big adjustable spanner. I put the saddle pin back into the frame and lost my height indicator. Only 1/8" or 3mm difference is very noticeable in seat height! I had to stop and push it back down to the normal height. I don't know why but all my leg muscles are aching. It's odd, because the last few days have been quite short rides.

I saw a red Ferrari in town. Very rare in Denmark because of the massive car import taxes. Luxury cars usually have German number plates. Though Danish Audis and Porsches are common enough. I see far more classical American cars than Italian super sports cars. 21 miles.

A trifle of whimsy.

17th 50-56F, 10-13C, overcast, breezy. A gorgeous dawn with pink stripes. Then it turned grey again.  It stayed dry despite a forecast of wet all morning (again).

WW3 was going on in one forest with continuous gunfire. Either they were damned poor shots or they had fattened up an awful lot of birds! Many fields, usually with copses, have blue, barrel-sized, grain dispensers.

There were a lot of horse boxes around today. It must be some sort of meeting. Or a market. A posh 4WD with a glossy black box overshot his turning by about 20 yards going up a steep hill. So he had to reverse back downhill. When he stopped suddenly the horse must have stumbled. Because there were loud bangs and lots of clomping from inside the box. Whoops!

I had to stop while a cockerel shepherded his flock of hens from the opposite verge back into the farmyard. It wasn't until I was well on my way again that he started complaining in a loud voice! Why did the chickens cross the road? Probably to get away from him!

My legs were okay today but the wind slowed me considerably for the second half. 25 miles. I have to go out again to find stuff which was out of stock elsewhere. Another seven miles after lunch. The roads are laden with mud, stones, leaves and twigs after the Katia storm passed north of Denmark. Some lanes were strewn with four inches of sand which has run off the fields during heavy rain.

I bought a tiny pot of Humbrol, purple enamel and one of white to touch up the Higgins. Even if I can't match the original paint exactly it will help to reduce surface rust.

 Talking of rust!

18th 54F, 12C, overcast, almost still. Raining already and forecast for most of the day. I could call it a rest day but I have mudguards now! There are no  more feeble excuses reasons to take a rest day. :-)

It is said that Eskimos have fifty different words for kinds of snow in their vocabulary. Anyone would think the British were eminently overqualified to have fifty different descriptions for rain. But no. You'll just have to make do with "tipping down." As in; it tipped down all the time I was out. So that every rain drop which fell could be seen hitting the standing water lying on the entire road surface. For every inch of the way. Hills were streams and on the flat the standing water was just a lot deeper. An inch or three was commonplace.

The nearest shop had none of our favourite bread. I was already wet right through by then. So I pressed on to the next shop at twice the distance. The fresh loaf safely ensconced in my bag, I headed home again. A huge tanker, with matching trailer, went past at 100kph in a 60kph zone as I waited at the junction. I was sprayed from head to foot. Yeuk!

The return journey was perfectly timed for the rain to redouble its efforts. I found that the usual secret to least discomfort was to try and keep as still as possible. While still maintaining a high cadence in a lowish gear. This reduced body rocking to a minimum. Any movement will bring new, cold and moist air against the already cool skin. That, which remains in contact, will already have been slightly warmed by the body. Hopefully avoiding further chilling if it can be kept there.

I wore an old polyurethane proofed jacket over the Belstaff jacket and stayed just warm enough for comfort. This, despite being literally soaked to the skin from head to toe after only five miles. Now, as I scribble away an hour later it has stopped raining. We might even see some sunshine. 15 soggy miles have found my wet weather clothing completely inadequate. Even my socks were soaked through despite the neoprene overshoes.

Not your usual shopping trolley.

I checked the chainline this afternoon (perfect) and made small changes to the angle of the gear hanger and cable tension. I shall be looking for a new cycling cape in the charity shops to try. This is by far the best way to obtain potentially useful wet weather gear. The very low prices ensure that a failure is not a financial disaster. I have been reading the reviews on the popular online bike sales companies. One can sense that even the serious, biig money jackets are not really perfect. Neither perfectly waterproof nor breathable enough for an active cyclist in heavy rain.

I'm not suggesting that one can find modern, high tech materials, cycling wear in the charity shops. Though a cape should be easily found to see how it copes. They were once standard cycling wear in the rain thanks to their excellent ventilation. One would think they would be low drag too. Much like a fairing. Though they do hide the handlebars, make gear identification impossible and indication of changes of direction more difficult. A side wind can also be a problem. The cape I have already is hopeless. No thumb loops and open sides in a cheap and cheerful yellow plastic. Two pounds equivalent in a charity shop. I wore it only once and swore never to wear it again! I had forgotten how awful it was in the interim two years.

Tour of Denmark 2006

19th 54-56F, 12-13C, breezy becoming windy, sunny periods. A different route away from my normal area of exploration and supermarket exploitation. Somehow I managed to arrange a crosswind over much of the journey. I tried to chase a racing cyclist, out training, but he was doing 20mph+ to my 17-18mph. Despite all the extra weight I was gaining slowly on a big hill but was going backwards on the flat.

A local supermarket and another local shop, in a village, have closed after decades of service. A new supermarket opened near the main road/bypass. So it was grabbing all the passing traffic. Now all the locals, and pensioners in particular, have a very long walk to reach the new outlet. In other villages almost every single, high street shop has closed. Numbering about half a dozen. What will the locals do now? Get on a bus for the big city twenty miles away? Choices are very limited for those without their own transport. Bus fares are astronomical! Supermarkets are not strong on lady's fashion wear for the mature women. (or man for that matter)

A lady's and gent's wait patiently for their owners to return.

I found my next trike fitting, shopping bag in a charity shop today. In a tasteful blue/mauve. I had a smaller version previously but there is easily room for three, full, carrier bags of shopping in this one. Much less effort, friction and weight than any trailer. (in case you were wondering) :-)  Images to follow when the present bag finally succumbs to being overloaded and abused in all weathers. 22miles today.

20th 55F, 13C, overcast, breezy. No bread or rolls. So I did 14 miles just to buy a lettuce? Crackers. Too far to reach other outlets before lunch. Traffic was light. What there was seemed to be travelling at twice the speed limit. It rained at home but not where I was. Wind is picking up to 30mph gusts again. Only 18 miles. I might be able to sneak out after lunch if it stays dry. Now it's started raining again! Not today.

Working trike on the bridge paint job.

21st 55F, 13C, overcast, windy, continuous rain. If it doesn't clear up I'll  make it a rest day. :-(

Not going out leaves a huge hole in my day. The daily trike ride has become such a part of my life now. So much so that I feel completely lost without it. Which is absolutely crackers really. Though all the carefully recorded rides suggests it is a form of madness I willingly tolerate. Even if I do dress them up as essential shopping trips.

Cycling is always painful to some extent. Only if one rides very slowly on a dead flat road in balmy conditions is it completely without effort. The slightest incline demands that one's leg muscles respond. Add a bag of organic potatoes and a couple of litres of milk to an already lumpen trike and breathlessness is inevitable. Age offers no respite if one has the slightest delusions of grandeur in the speed department.  Why would an old fart like me chase a racing cyclist out training? His age and the weight of his steed are often a third of my own.

Somehow I learned to ride flat out, all the time, in my youth. I would sprint down the road, pick up a bus or lorry to draught and go from there. Hour after hour. If I saw another cyclist I would speed up even further. To catch and overtake. Or to show I was a real cyclist.  Not a weekend poser with an expensive bike.

Appearance was all important. Requiring scruffy, real hide, track mitts and racing shorts and short sleeved, tight fitting jerseys. Even when it was freezing! Dropped bars, all alloy accessories and toe clips and straps were de rigueur. Shoe plates, black racing shoes and white socks were the uniform of the road. Sprints and tubs as essential as a hand-built frameset.

Quality lasts

Despite the intervening decades the habits are hard to break. If one becomes accustomed to trying to ride faster all the time then one learns to suffer more or less continuously. Cycle racing is often a measure of how much the rider will allow themselves to suffer. It is never a test of sheer strength. Nor some unique ability. Not without a very large dollop of positive psychology to dull the pain.

We each have our own fix. Mine is not racing downhill. Though it is exhilarating enough to offer a base speed on the flat or rise beyond. It has more to do with trying to constantly recapture the effortlessness of a great day. When one was feeling particularly fit and strong.

The hill taken and conquered without having one's legs burn. Nor leaving one gasping for fiery breath. The burst of acceleration on the flat which can be maintained. It is probably a throwback to chasing prey. A prehistoric race memory. Of being fleet of foot and tireless in the chase. The physical rewards extending well beyond the feast ahead.
Which raises the inevitable question of masochism in any physically demanding sport. Do the rewards outweigh the pain of endless training and/or competition? What of those who merely compete against themselves? We are the ridiculously biased judge and jury. While the defence has a fool for a client. Guilty as charged! We are all "lifers" in the grand scheme of things. :-)



  1. Steve: I just today discovered your blog; it's a very welcome addition to my list of cycling-related reading, all the more in that I hope that I shall soon realize my long-standing interest in upright deltas with the purchase of a Ken Rogers already located here in the US. Your various posts, particularly on the 2WD conversion, were very helpful in describing the performance of the LHD trike on RHD cambers. I think for now a LHD will do well enough on our rather low camber, southwest (= desert) US roads -- I am in Albuquerque, NM -- tho' perhaps in the future a Trykit 2WD conversion might be done.

    I've been using so-called "adult tricycle", modified, for short distance grocery and Post Office errands -- see

    -- and it's great fun, but although made by a reputable US maker of industrial trikes (they are still made in NYC) it is a cheapo and the rear axle bearings are not Campy quality, to say the least.

    I look forward to reading more of you blog.

    Best from the southwest(ern US), Patrick Moore

  2. Hi Patrick

    Steve is a generous friend from the UK. I am Chris the blogger and fellow tricyclist. Thank you for your kind words about my blog.

    I have just been admiring your Picasa gallery. You have some really nice toys! I greatly envy you your garage. It is so tidy! Where can you get these online? ;-) (I can hardly get into my bike shed for junk)

    I think you will notice a real difference if you can get hold of the Rogers trike. It will be lighter, faster, far more responsive and will want to turn the other way from your present steed.

    From the description your present trike has RWD. The Rogers is almost certain to be LWD. How much this matters will depend on your roads. In a low rainfall area camber may not be necessary. Over here in Denmark and the UK the camber can often feel like 30 degrees!

    A Trykit 2WD kit will provide new axles and journal bearings. They are silent, smooth and very free running.

    You can also fit a ten gear cassette if you like. I find lots of close ratio gears very useful depending on the load, wind direction, my strength on the day and the gradient. Your mileage may vary depending on your needs. A speedier trike may completely alter your perception of triking.

    Let's be careful out there. :-)

    Best regards